The Kids archaeology program started in 2006 as a small idea, between local enthusiasts and visiting scholars and scientists in the Žingeyjarsveit municipality and Žingeyjarsżsla region in Northern Iceland. The region has for decades been the summer destination for international teams of archaeologists and various natural and environmental scientists visiting for a few weeks or months each year to carry out a wide range of research on long term human interactions with environment and landscapes (as part of the Landscapes of Settlement
and International Polar Year
programs). As a result of a yearlong cooperation the Kids archaeology program was formed in collaboration between The Žingeyjarsżsla Archaeological Association
, Narfastašir tourist center
, Litlulaugaskóli grammar school
, The Institute of Archaeology, Iceland, Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges, City University of New York and the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization NABO
. The Kids Archaeology School
was formally established in the spring of 2007 and has since grown in scope and aim. A website dedicated to the project is now under construction (www.fornleifaskoli.is
) where more information and updates will be available.
Why an archaeology program for kids?
The aim of the Kids archaeology program is to give local school children (aged 6-15) an opportunity to learn about, and take part in archaeological and ecological research taking place in their local environment. Through classroom activities as well as site-visits and experiments the students get an actual introduction to a scientific, academic discipline on their own terms where they enter and learn as active participants, rather than passive, receiving bystanders. Through the program we believe we are able to challenge or alter the students often negative image of science and scientists, and send the message through that science can be enjoyable for everyone.
What may be gained?
- Students in rural communities, often unfamiliar with academic or scientific work, get an opportunity to meet and work with academics and scientists
- The program helps students understand that science is not something beyond their reach but a world that welcomes them
- The program helps students understand that knowledge is not something they receive but something that comes about through their engagement and interest
- The program develops and trains a critical way of thinking where the researcher's (the student's) standpoint is central and never hidden behind a claimed objectivity
- The program helps students understand how knowledge is constructed through active inquiry, examination and research driven by their curiosity and critical thinking
- The program helps students understand that there is a (present) past, that not only exists in written texts but is materially manifested in our environment for times to come and thus helps them understand that our own effects on the environment are unquestionable and enduring
Hands on! Learning is doing
Modern archaeology is a wide ranging scientific discipline which interdisciplinary methods are particularly suitable for stimulating integration in the school curriculum. It is the discipline of the material culture of the past where hands on activities are the absolute prerequisite for knowledge construction. Learning by doing , or hands on activities are well known concepts within education while the traditional contemporary school system offers few opportunities in that direction. The integration of archaeology in children's education, in relation to traditional disciplines such as history, environmental studies and local studies, is a way to enhance the traditional curriculum and an excellent way to add to it a practical dimension.
The future international initiatives
The Kids archaeology program is now a key part of the Historical Ecology: Islands of Change Initiative, funded in part by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs in the USA. This collaboration allows Icelandic students to interact through organized activities with students in in New York, Greenland, Orkney, Faroes, Norway, Antigua/Barbuda, Curacao and Bonaire. The students and their schools will take active part in projects focusing on global change and make a real contribution to community heritage and world science. Each participating school will work on locally focused projects while the interaction with other participants, through the internet and study visits, will provide comparative data and promote global perspectives. As the projects develop the students will present their work to their peers in an international forum, hosted in turn by the participating schools.